Norwegian ‘catapult centre’ to test energy technologies

Hege Økland, NCE Maritime CleanTech (right) with Asbjørn Halsebakke, The Switch Norway (second left) and Gunnar Birkeland (second right) and Bernt Henrik Hellesøe (left), Unitech Hege Økland, NCE Maritime CleanTech (right) with Asbjørn Halsebakke, The Switch Norway (second left) and Gunnar Birkeland (second right) and Bernt Henrik Hellesøe (left), Unitech

A new facility in Norway will advance the testing of sustainable energy systems for use in shipping.

The NCE Maritime CleanTech cluster, based in Stord, has received funding from Norwegian industrial development corporation Siva to open a ‘catapult centre’ that will act as a national testing and innovation centre for the development of smart and green technologies.

The Sustainable Maritime Norwegian Catapult Center will offer facilities to test, prototype and pilot new energy technologies, including batteries, fuel cells and hybrid systems. As part of the project, three ship owners – ferry operator Norled, tanker company Knutsen and offshore ship owner Solstad – have provided vessels to host pilot installations.

“Our ambition is to establish a centre with the foremost competence and the most complete testing facilities for the development of renewable energy systems. The centre will also provide an opportunity to test new technologies and solutions to simplify the road from concept to market introduction,” said Hege Økland, CEO, NCE Maritime CleanTech.

The Switch Norway, one of Europe’s largest privately-owned testing centres for marine power electronics, is a member of the NCE Maritime CleanTech cluster and was an originator of the catapult centre ambition.

“Access to the physical infrastructure for development and innovation is of major strategic importance for our competitiveness and future value creation in the marine industry,” said Asbjørn Halsebakke, general manager, The Switch Norway. “This centre will be an important learning area to help us create more innovation and strengthen Norway’s position as a marine nation.”

Catapult schemes are financed by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries and are handled by Siva in cooperation with the Research Council and Innovation Norway. The other two winning catapult initiatives will be supported by Bergen Technology Transfer and ÅKP Blue Innovation Arena. The Norwegian government has awarded a total of NOK125 million for catapult centres this year.

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